Make COVID testing free and accessible now! – KMP

Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) insisted today that making confirmatory tests for COVID-2019 free of any charges and widely accessible is necessary as soon as possible. The statement was made after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-2019 as a global pandemic. KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos explains that “it is in the interest of every Filipino that testing kits and processes be made accessible to the most number of Filipinos at the soonest time possible. Those who are vulnerable should be prioritized for testing. Just one loose COVID-infected person can easily infect hundreds or even thousands in a day traversing our congested transport systems and densely populated urban communities.”

“Because of the Duterte government’s sheer complacency and negligence in facing the COVID threat early on, it is highly likely that thousands are already infected in our urban centers,” Ramos fears. He however points out that “it is better to know the real extent of the domestic COVID problem than wallow in the illusion of ignorance and false sense of security.” KMP has earlier raised concern and alarm over the government’s delayed, shallow, and fragmented response, and unclear and narrow public communication on the disease.

The peasant leader adds that suggesting social distancing is insufficient and impossible for thousands and even millions of poor Filipinos. “The Duterte administration still does not see COVID from the point of view of ordinary Filipinos who have no choice but to daily squeeze themselves in overflowing public vehicles and trains, have no benefit of paid leaves, cannot afford basic health services, and have no access to reliable and timely information,” Ramos says.

The KMP also expressed deep concern over the possibility of COVID spreading out into depressed rural and urban areas. “Millions of rural poor in remote villages have virtually zero access to any substantial health service. Most far-flung barangays don’t even have barangay health centers. Six out of 10 Filipinos die without even seeing a doctor or any healthcare facility in their entire life. Malnutrition is also widespread in these areas, making the rural poor more vulnerable. Farmers and their families would be helpless in the face of COVID. Worse, the virus might survive longer in such areas even after better measures have been made available in city centers – prolonging the possibility for more outbreaks,” Ramos laments.

Lambasting the government’s misdirected efforts, Ramos adds that “Duterte is yet again looking at the wrong way in letting the Presidential communications office waste funds in spreading lies all around Europe instead of sufficiently informing the public about the COVID. Militarist “solutions” such as lockdowns imposed by armed troops will be ineffective in the absence of a comprehensive public healthcare framework.”

“Under a grossly negligent, incompetent, and insensitive president, it is unsurprising that many Filipinos worry and panic. Duterte’s continuance of past administrations’ disregard of the national healthcare system, of public information systems and education, of food self-sufficiency, and of local people-oriented research and development, among others are the root causes of our nation’s seeming incapacity in facing the COVID pandemic,” Ramos ends. #

(Featured image from NNARA-Youth)